Bleeding during pregnancy is fairly common but it can indicate a more serious complication. Knowing how much bleeding is too much during pregnancy can help you understand when you need to contact your doctor so you can get the medical help you need right away.
Causes of First Trimester Bleeding
Bleeding during the first trimester of pregnancy is fairly common and can often result from hormonal changes as your body adjusts to pregnancy. Fluctuations in hormone levels, especially progesterone can cause spotting. Brown blood is old blood and is not generally something to be concerned about, although it is always best to talk to your doctor to be sure. Bright red blood is a sign of fresh bleeding.
In the first few months of pregnancy, many women develop a subchorionic hematoma, which is a pocket of blood that forms behind the placenta. This is generally not a problem but it should be watched by your doctor to be sure that it reabsorbs towards the end of the first trimester.
Low progesterone is a major cause of bleeding. Your doctor will most likely run a blood progesterone test at the first sign of spotting to be sure that you do not need to take progesterone supplements during the first trimester of pregnancy.
Signs of Miscarriage
Miscarriage is what most women worry about with any bleeding during the first trimester. Heavy bleeding may be a sign of miscarriage but could also be cervical bleeding or bleeding from a hematoma. It is important to contact your doctor if you experience any bleeding during pregnancy.
If you are soaking more than a pad an hour you should go directly to the emergency room. Before the 20th week of pregnancy, most doctors prefer that you go to the emergency room rather than labor and delivery. The doctor there will contact your Ob/Gyn. There is rarely anything that your doctor can do to prevent a miscarriage but it is important that you be monitored to make sure that you are not losing too much blood.
Bleeding During the Second Trimester
Bleeding during the first few weeks of the second trimester can occur as the placenta takes over and hormone levels change. Slight spotting is common but heavier bleeding that fills a pad should be checked out immediately.
Once you get further into the second trimester, any bleeding is an immediate cause for concern. Bleeding can be an indication of pre-term labor, placenta previa or a placental abruption. Placenta previa occurs when the placenta attaches too close to the cervix and blocks the cervical opening. Any irritation or contractions can cause major bleeding. A placental abruption is when the placenta detaches from the uterus. This involves sudden heavy bleeding and can cause major problems for both mother and baby. Contact your doctor if you experience any bleeding during the second trimester, especially if it is bright red, indicating new blood.
Bleeding During the Third Trimester
Bleeding during the first part of the third trimester should be discussed with your doctor immediately. Like the second trimester, bleeding during the first part of the third trimester is not normal and could be an indication of pre-term labor, placenta previa or placental abruption.
Bleeding at the End of Pregnancy
Towards the end of pregnancy, your body will begin to prepare for labor. As much as a month before the onset of labor, an expectant mom can lose her mucus plug. The mucus plug may have streaks of red blood in it. This is normal and nothing to worry about. Spotting could be an indication that your cervix is beginning to dilate and you should be checked out by your doctor or the labor and delivery department. Any bleeding that soaks a pad should be checked out immediately in labor and delivery. Most spotting towards the end of pregnancy is an indication of impending labor and a sign that you will get to meet your baby soon.